Leaving PhD career for consulting? Need logical opinions

BCG McKinsey and Bain Engineering MBB mbb exit change Middle East phd PhDtoConsulting
New answer on Jan 31, 2022
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 30, 2022

Hi management consulting enthusiasts, 

I have been researching the career path of management consultants (mostly MBB and some other top firms which have advanced degree paths). I usually see consultants leave the job with some sort of exit plan after a few years in the firm. I also see the salary range is mostly under $CAD 100k + bonus in the first 3 years (Canada offices) and mostly work overtime. But, the management consulting career looks to leave a good impression on the resume forever along with a strong alumni network. With that being said, is it worth leaving a research scientist (engineer) career, with an independent and flexible schedule, which pays about $CAD90k+ options+benefits and continued opportunities to invent more? The biggest driving force for me to look into management consulting is  A) the growth opportunity I sense- Later I can take up CTO, CSO or at least better position than a scientist B) If I make into Middle-east office, new geography experience. With my scientific career, all I can see is retiring as a scientist, and my strategy team and C suit control the big game. I also see in many manufacturing and science companies, non-science/tech people play the big decision role, rather than the inventors and hence take a large share. IT-sector could be an exception in my view. Can you please share your opinion to help me logically shape my thoughts on pursuing consulting career? Is Management consulting a wise path to take?

Cheers 

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Slawomir
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Jan 30, 2022
Former McK interviewer, PhD who successfully transitioned from Academia, received offers from McK/BCG/Bain/LEK

Hello,

As a former scientist (and PhD), I can relate to your doubts. I decided to make the move and I do not regret it although I already made another move since then :)

Others made very good recommendations regarding reaching connecting with your network and collecting honest opinions about their experience. Try to find other PhDs who faced such decisions (ideally in a similar setting because I believe people who took a break from consulting to do a quick 3y PhD “in the meantime” might have a different view).

If you don't know anyone like that or would like to discuss anything specific please feel free to reach out to me.

Best,

Slawomir

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Lucie
Expert
replied on Jan 31, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hello there, 


these types of questions are difficult, as only you know what is better for your context and long term goals, still let me put it in a perspective:

MBB pros/cons
1. Satisfy people with a need for constant challenge 
2. Fit those who enjoy working in a team but have little possibility to decide on their own
3. Work with different nationalities, expose different firm cultures, etc. 
4. Allowing to learn how to deal with C-level executives and ability to work on strategic and complex problems that have a huge impact
5. But it comes with a price... really working hard (14-15 hours a day standard), work is number 1 (there is just no way around it)
6. Excellent opportunity for people who want to grow in business, usually general path (no specialist)
7. Somehow good pay for non-experience hired, for experienced hires even MBB pays not so well → the hours you will work won't be compensated with salary


I would recommend thinking about what do you want in long run: do you want to make a career in a corporation or even stay in research but aim for the big managerial role? Then go for MBB. But if you would like to progress as a specialist, researcher, MBB unlikely will give you more than just endless hours of work. 


I am a professional coach (not referring to helping MBB candidates being it “real” coaching), if you would like to chat about this topic ("what would be the best next move"), please reach out, this is a common topic I help my clients with. 

All the best,

Lucie

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 31, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

The answer depends on your long-term goals. Where do you want to be in 5-10 years? Ideally you should identify the option that leads you there and go for that. 

A great way to clarify this point is to talk with people who took the two different paths and try to understand which one fits best your aspirations.

In general, consulting will help to open new doors for exits and develop skills like the following:

  1. Solve complex problems. You will learn how to find solutions for complex issues, even in areas you are not familiar with, using a structured approach.
  2. Develop great communication skills. You will learn how to communicate properly with everyone in a company from new hires to C-levels.
  3. Acquire knowledge of multiple industries. You will learn insider aspects of several industries in a very short period of time.
  4. Reach challenging goals within a set time frame. You will learn how to respect apparently impossible deadlines and achieve the objectives required.
  5. Delegate and be a team player. You will learn how to allocate tasks to others and have a team-based mentality, as your job as a consultant will be strongly influenced by your team performance.
  6. Master Excel, PowerPoint and other productivity tools. You will learn how to become a lot more efficient with the main business productivity apps compared to the average user.
  7. Prioritize activities. You will learn how to become 80-20...or alternatively how to sleep very few hours ;). As a consultant, you will always have more things to do than the ones achievable in a certain time frame, hence you will have to constantly decide what to give priority to.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 30, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

You're asking all the right questions and thinking about this in the right way!

Ultimately, I can't tell you what do to but the more you network and pick up the phone and talk to people the more clear you will be on this decision.

Management consulting is hard and not for the faint-hearted. However, as you state it does open up the doors for you. In my view, the worst case scenario if you hate it is you return back to what you used to do.

Good luck with those calls and your decision :)

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Jan 30, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

If you want to lead a business… you have to understand business… you have to work in a business related role at some point. So yes, consulting is a great role to learn about business, one of the best actually, particularly if you are considering corporate type of business leadership (vs. startup business leadership).

That being said, you could benefit from some networking conversations in order to get a better understanding of what you'll be doing and learning in consulting and the exit opportunities.

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Moritz
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 30, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

I like the way try to break the problem down! However, it’s not just a numbers thing.

You’re basically asking whether you should continue working in a cozy research environment or become an MBB consultant so you can aim for CTO.

Both paths are equally valid but VERY different in terms of what ”a day in the life“ looks like. Hence, people’s profiles and interests in these domains are typically quite different, too.

However, I used to work as a scientist and then became an MBB consultant so there’s obviously an overlap :)

Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of person you are. Figure that out first! Forget about the numbers, they’re meaningless if you’re going to be miserable in either path.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss further, I have quite a bit of experience in this area.

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Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 30, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience
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Slawomir gave the best answer

Slawomir

CoachingPlus Expert
Former McK interviewer, PhD who successfully transitioned from Academia, received offers from McK/BCG/Bain/LEK
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